Ukraine Govt Persecutes Church: 19 Clergy Lose Citizenship, 14 Bishops in Court

Originally appeared at: Orthodox Christianity

The Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) issued a statement on Wednesday last week that essentially provides statistics about its persecution of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Since the start of the war, the SBU has “exposed” more than 60 clergy of the “UOC-MP” [Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate]. The hierarchs, whose "crime" is standing firm in Orthodoxy and not violating Church canons by joining the schismatic OCU, are accused of working for the Russian Federation. They are even being accused of selling weapons and child pornography.

Three of the persecuted hierarchs: Met. Theodosy of Cherkassy (left), Met. Pavel of Vyshgorod, abbot of Kiev Caves Lavra (center), Met. Jonathan of Tulchin (right). Photo: spzh.news

68 criminal proceedings have been initiated against representatives of the UOC, including 14 metropolitans. The SBU claims there are “20 facts of treason, collaboration, and complicity with the aggressor country.”

26 representatives of the UOC have been informed of suspicion, and another 19 have already received court verdicts. Two convicted clerics have been exchanged for Ukrainian soldiers who were being held by Russia.

The SBU specifically mentions His Eminence Metropolitan Jonathan of Tulchin, who it claims “promoted the armed aggression of the Russian Federation among parishioners and justified the temporary occupation of part of the territory of Ukraine.”

19 representatives of the UOC, including several metropolitans, “who have Russian passports and distributed pro-Kremlin narratives about the war in Ukraine,” have been deprived of their Ukrainian citizenship.

More than 177 clerics of the Russian Church are banned from entering Ukraine.

The SBU claims that it “operates exclusively within the framework of the Constitution of Ukraine and the current legislation, and respects the rights of every citizen to freedom of choice of religion and worldview.”

“But not a single enemy accomplice and criminal element will be able to hide from justice behind a cassock for crimes against Ukraine.”

The Legal Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church issued a statement in response to the SBU report, emphasizing that the organization is waging a “conscious information campaign against the UOC, its believers and clergy,” trying to create a negative image of the UOC, “probably in the interests of third parties, which is not related to the tasks assigned to the SBU by law.”

In particular, the Legal Department emphasizes that in referring to the canonical Ukrainian Church as the “UOC-MP,” the Security Service deliberately misleads the Ukrainian public to turn people against the Church.

There is not a single registered church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine, the Legal Department affirms, and no UOC parishes have anything about relations with the MP in their constituent documents. Nor do the 177 clerics of the Russian Church who are banned from entering Ukraine have anything to do with the UOC, the Church response emphasizes.

Certainly, there are citizens of Ukraine who have helped Russia in the war, but the SBU doesn’t publish any information about its own security service or law enforcement agency representatives who have helped Russia, nor does it publish information about believers from any other religions. Instead, it focuses solely on the UOC, because the SBU intends to incite religious enmity.

In conclusion, the Legal Department hopes the SBU will cease its persecution of the UOC and its one-sided disinformation campaign.

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